I break therefore I am

Klutz-hood is not for everyone. It’s not enough to subscribe to the journal, pay your membership fees and voila – you’re a klutz.

Oh no, no, no.

Klutz-hood is a calling. A lifestyle. A state of mind in which the ensuing gracelessness touches everything you lay your hands on. Things break.

Oh, yeah!

If this were a science fiction film we would be called Breakers (Busters, perhaps) and we would be feared and respected. That’s a film I’d like to live in. Instead … people shake their heads, and laugh (family included).

So be it.

I’m a klutz, and I’m proud.

I won’t count for you the plates I’ve broken putting them away. (Quick aside: did you know that if you don’t clear the bottom edge of the cupboard while putting the plate away, that it will break perfectly in two. True. And voila! A thing of base functionality becomes a work of art.)

And I won’t count for you all the jacket pockets I’ve torn open by snagging them on door handles. Or the glasses that broke simply by washing them. Or the watches, the shirt buttons, the USB sticks or even the mirrors. (I have a great story about a mirror that DIDN’T break – even when I punched it .. but perhaps it’s better left for another blog.)

None of that.

Instead, let me account for you the signs of my call to klutz-hood:

Age 7, I snuck into the bedroom of my cousin to goof around with her ballerina jewellery box (you know, the kind where the ballerina pops up and dances to music when you open the lid). So, naturally, I managed to break the ballerina in two after a few minutes. A below knee amputation if I remember correctly. And then, outrageous fortune, the jewellery box wouldn’t stop its infernal tinkling.


What to do? What to do? Well, even then I was showing evidence of the strong moral streak that characterizes who I am to this day. I ran.

My cousin, then around 9, discovered the damage – tears ensued – and my Aunt blamed … my older brother (just because, I guess). He protested his innocence (good for him). And my parents jumped to his defense (bless their souls). A wonderful argument followed, full of shouting and pointing and “Just like the time he …” type of anecdotes (all directed at my innocent brother, of course) – played out to a backdrop of my cousin bawling and Strauss’ Blue Danube in E Minor.

We stormed out of there let me tell you, and our two families didn’t talk for over a year.

All’s well that ends well.

Age 10, sitting in the car waiting for my brother and father to get in, I undid the hand break. Even today I can’t say why. More perplexing still was why I simply didn’t put it back on when I felt the car start inching forward. Instead, I just got out. And a good thing too. It was parked on a fucking hill.

Down it rolled, laying waste to a couple of barbed wire fences, missing the cows, missing the huge boulder (which was rather fortunate I thought), only to end up taking a face plough into the creek (and needed two tractors to pull it out).

A nice day’s work that one.

Age 14, helping my father change an engine gasket in his car. There were only four bolts to undo (the ‘only’ hangs rather ominously in that sentence don’t you think). He’d already done three, giving me ample instructions as he went, so he figured the last one was safe for me to do on my own. More fool him.

Do you know what sound a breaking bolt makes? Well, at first there is the simple ‘click’ of the metal giving way – a rather smallish sound. What follows is a wail, the mournful, anguished wail of someone who knows what that click meant. In this case, my Dad.

See, when a bolt breaks just like it did – leaving half the shaft behind – you have to take out the whole engine, re-bore the hole to extract the broken piece, re-tap the hole (giving it a thread to accept a new bolt), and then order in specially the new bolt from somewhere ludicrously far away.

Sound expensive? Kinda. Just a little more than the value of the car.


And there you have it – my three-pronged call to klutz-hood.

Anybody out there want to share their own stories of fantastic breakages?

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